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Divorce and student loan debt

Although many Tennessee couples overcome obstacles during their marriages, some find that finances are continually a source of contention. Among debts that can be problematic are student loans, which can be cumbersome because of the inability to discharge them through methods such as bankruptcy. In approaching divorce, however, it is important to understand that student debt could follow both parties into their separate futures.

One of the areas of focus during divorce is property division, which pertains to marital assets such as a home, bank accounts, investments, and other belongings. However, debts must be addressed during the divorce process as well. A student loan might involve one spouse's education, but if it is acquired during marriage, it could become an obligation of both parties in the case of divorce. A student loan acquired prior to marriage would not typically impact the other spouse unless the couple has taken out a consolidation loan to alleviate high interest rates.

Because Tennessee is not a community property state, there is not necessarily an even split of assets and debts during divorce. However, sensible reflection on the financial health of a couple could cause both parties to seek approaches to divorce that bypass litigation and a potential third-party decision on finances. Litigation could dramatically increase one's financial obligations because of legal fees. Collaboration still requires the involvement of lawyers, but it allows for relaxed discussion related to the matter.

In order to try to keep the final determination of debt allocation out of the hands of a judge, the parties might also want to try to negotiate a settlement agreement. If they are able to, their respective attorneys could sign off on it and submit it to the court to be made part of the final decree.

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Stanley A. Kweller, Attorney at Law
214 Second Avenue North, Suite 103
Nashville, TN 37201

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